MUSICAL INTERLUDE 12ft
ful as it seemed; it \vas against all sense. Surely four hundred
million Indians couldn't all be wrong ? After all, several Western
critics—not very many, not especially eminent, but at least worthy
of a hearing—had written with sympathy of Indian music*1
Besides—and this weighed more heavily—the Indian people, the
peasants, the street-hawkers, the riff-raff in the bazaars, were
obviously of a musical bent. They were always chanting and
humming to themselves. If this was the sort of thing they liked,
there must be something in it*
I must be wrong.
After this gesture of humility, I feel entitled to claim to be as well
equipped as the average journalist for the expression of reasonable
opinion on music. It has always been my first love ; I was fairly
advanced in counterpoint before my copy books had been dis-
carded, and could read a full score at a time when newspapers
were still beyond me.
I wish that it were possible to avoid this constant use of the first
person singular. But the matter is so personal that there seems no
other manner of approach. Perhaps the reader will take it not as
a sign of egotism, but as a necessity of technique.
"Where were we ? Oh, yes.. .being wrong about Indian, music,
trying to admit that the fault was in ourself.
It was at this point that the aforesaid ideas was born. There
were some sheets of manuscript paper in my pocket, which I
always carry in order to jot down any stray tune that may be
floating in the air- Why not attempt to write down some of the
uproar ? It would be an extremely difficult task, but there seemed
no alternative. And it might succeed; what made nonsense to
the ear might make sense to the eye.
So now there occurred a very exhausting scene of slithering
about on the floor, squatting among the players, taking notes. At
one moment I was trying to fix the rhythm of the drum ; at another,
1 One of them, Pierre Loti, had written with positive ecstasy. In the^ fifth chapter
of his diarv, Ulnde* there is a long purple passage describing an evening of Indian
music. However, Loti is obviously more excited by the musicians themselves than
by the sound they are making;"most of his swooning prose concerns 'the rose-
* ^ scented garments of the players'... * the wonderful eyes of the young drummer
boy'... * the thin nervous fingers of the punkah walla.* When he attempts to describe
the music itself the best he can do is to call it ea sort of wail., .an intense and
passionate moan*' Which does not really get us much farther.